Emma Raducanu tipped to take time away from tennis as schedule plan is discussed

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu impressive on clay in Stuttgart
Emma Raducanu has enjoyed some good wins on clay

Emma Raducanu has taken some big strides forward in her comeback over the last few weeks and now she has been given a glowing endorsement by Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong.

The 2021 US Open champion won two matches under Keothavong’s watch as Britain beat France in a thrilling Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers clash earlier this month, with Raducanu continuing her find fine on clay court by reaching the quarter-finals of last week’s Stuttgart Open.

That run in Germany saw Raducanu rise 82 places in this week’s WTA Rankings, but Keothavong has told Sky Sports Tennis that the former world No 10 does not need to play matches every week this year as she looks to reclaim her place back at the top of the women’s game.

“When you’ve had a period of time on the sidelines you soon realise how much you miss the sport and how much you want to be out there competing, and despite having nothing to defend for the rest of the year I don’t think we’re going to see her playing week in, week out for the rest of the year. She doesn’t need to,” said Keothavong.

“She already touched on the fact that ‘I don’t need matches to feel confident, I can get it from practice’ and having seen some of the sessions she’s been putting in with [coach] Nick Cavaday at the National Tennis Centre, the work she’s doing with Ian Aylward – the fitness trainer – she’s loving it.

“For me, it was refreshing to hear her talk about her tennis. That week at the Billie Jean King Cup. She knew who she was playing and had tough matches ahead but [her attitude was] ‘it’s alright, I’m hitting the ball really well, I’m playing points really well. I’m going to be fine’ which is a different approach this year she’s taken – just having that inner belief in her confidence to trust herself.

“She’s a classy tennis player, she’s a smart tennis player. She’ll be able to figure it out and you’ve got to give any player you’re working with the confidence to trust your instinct. You can go out there with a strategy but the match changes. There will be ebbs and flows, you’ve got to make adjustments tactically and she’s got that.

“Trust the fact that you’re a great tennis player.”

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu is presented with a glorious chance for rankings boost in Madrid

Former leading British player Naomi Broady was equally optimistic about Raducanu’s hopes for the next few weeks, as she prepares for a run of tournaments that could see her return to the top 100 of the WTA Rankings.

“We all want a piece of Emma Raducanu,” said Broady. “What a year she’s had over the past 12 months and she mentioned that famous interview that she had and got so much stick for at the time. But there was so much going on off court and we forget that about these professional players, don’t we?

“We just see what they’re doing on the court and we forget there’s so much going on behind the scenes, but what a position to be in now for her with absolutely no points to defend going forward. That’s like the dream for any tennis player.

“Tennis is not like any other sport where you start again from scratch in January. If you have a good year the previous year then you’ve got those points to defend so if you’re not winning events then you’re dropping down in the rankings.

“Even a good week making semis you’re dropping if you’ve won the previous year so she has absolutely nothing to defend – therefore zero pressure for the rest of the year – and she’s clearly feeling confident.

“So managing energy levels is her biggest thing to overcome this year if she’s able to stay fit and healthy again.”

“Last year she was kind of treading water because it was the right foot, left foot, wrist. There was so much going on and she was having to manage her practice hours. She’s a workhorse.

“She always puts in so many hours on the court and I think that’s why the people who know Emma’s game and know her close at hand have no doubts she can get back to the top of the game.”